Von Pariahs, crazy rock and dishevelled singing
As with every respectable art form, visuals are very important. A band’s atmosphere can be transmitted through its sound, but also through its album cover, sometimes blindly chosen with the utmost suspense. It’s with this music-loving habit that this pale four-eyed family surprised me. When the little arrow on my chain started to flicker, I persuaded myself again that nothing is chosen at random. The ghosts of Von Pariahs have more than one trick up their sleeves.
Wild, crazy, dark and incredible, the Von Pariahs rock does not need coaxing. We met up with Sam Sprent, singer in the band.
Hi Sam! It’s with great pleasure that I welcome you today. We’ve been to a couple of your concerts since arriving here in Nantes. The energy and authenticity you exude on stage is mind-blowing. Can you tell us how and where all this bloody mess started?
It all started in a garage, at our parents’ house in the countryside. We were partying like everyone else, but when everybody was hungover on the Sunday, we were composing our future album!
What’s the story behind your name “Von Pariahs”? How did it come to you?
Théo (composer and guitarist) and Guillaume (drummer) came up with the idea of forming a band. We were 15 or 16 years old, listening to The Stooges and the Sex Pistols. We thought we were the only bastards of our age to listen to that kind of music! Our dads’ albums and cassettes got mixed up with the Internet and all that can be found on there. It gave us Von Pariahs: a perfect cohesion of six personalities. The name came to us whilst brainstorming for a new name back in the day. We chose it for a few reasons, but mainly because it sounded right.
Your music is a mix of rock’n’roll and punk, but also shoegaze and 80’s music. What are your respective influences?
We have loads! But if we had to give you just one, it’d be the Rolling Stones. We listened to “Sticky Fingers” a lot with Théo, we think it’s their best one. We also read Keef Hartley’s autobiography, which I highly recommended.
Some people see Von Pariahs as a drunken Ian Curtis from Nantes, and a lot see you as part of the next generation of promising French bands. How do you deal with everything that surrounds you?
We’re all proud of our first album. We wanted to stamp our mark on the French music scene and it was a success! We’re very happy when people talk about us, whether it be positive or negative. Nevertheless, I think that the French media has a problem with bands stemming from their own country. They’re constantly focused on American and English bands and follow them like sheep, even though there are a ton of great bands in France. I really hope we can change that.
Your “Hidden tensions” cover is fantastic. It’s a reference to French artist Théo Mercier’s “Invisible family”. Why this particular choice and what’s your relationship with the artist?
Yes, it’s the “Invisible family” piece by Théo Mercier and it’s our own Théo who, one day, went to see his exhibition. He was totally blown away by it, especially the common features between his world and our own. We all agreed on the “Invisible family”. It represents our dark and edgy world, as well as the family aspect that emanates from it. We simply asked him the permission to use it and he accepted.
We heard that you’re currently recording your second album? Can you give us some information about it so as to get our mouths watering?
We’ve finished recording, we’re now mixing it. There have been three sessions since last summer at the Blockhaus DY10 in Nantes. We composed a lot during the first album tour. We had a lot of songs! We’ll only be choosing the best for you! The album should be released at the beginning of next year.
You must remember your first concert together. How was it?
I personally don’t remember it. It was probably a lousy plan and I must have shit myself with anxiety. People didn’t give a fuck about us, the beer was warm, that kind of stuff. All I know is that, in the beginning, I used to turn my back on the public to concentrate on my mates. That’s how I had fun. I’ve started to turn towards the public for some time now, and I’ve only just started enjoying myself with them.
Whilst we’re on the subject of concerts, what’s the craziest thing to happen to you on tour?
It was an encounter during the Eurockéennes festival in France. The day after our concert, we headed behind the stage where My Bloody Valentine were playing and we bumped into Blur. I introduced myself straight away, we chatted for a bit and I told them I didn’t want to miss the concert. We ended up watching My Bloody Valentine side by side, the Von Pariahs and Blur. It was surreal!
You played at the Transmusicales in Rennes, which welcomes more than 30,000 people. Is that your biggest show to date? How was it?
The biggest concerts aren’t always the most successful! At the Transmusicales, it was crazy and so stressful all at the same time. We had trouble with the equipment, I even made a mess of a slam. We renamed it Sam! We have done more festivals since that have gone a lot more smoothly, like at the Vieilles Charrues. That was really great. The public… Crazy! Even after three days the guys were still incredibly hot!
Is an international tour on the cards?
The second album tour is being prepared behind the scenes. You’ll know more very soon!
One last stupid question, if we were to go for drinks in a bar later on, where would we go?
Rendez-vous at the Landru!